I know this thread is going to sound.......irrelevent (?).....for most of you, but here we go. I wanted to talk about my experiences here in Japan as a photographer. Firstly, you wouldn't believe the sheer number of DSLR owners in Japan, both overseas and Japanese tourists. I don't know if this is because of the dropping cost of DSLR bodies, or whether it's because people who travel to Japan are generally richer than the Average Joe and prepare themselves for this trip by getting a DSLR to take photos in this wonderful country. I don't think it's because of dropping costs though, because these tourists also seem to have fantastic lenses. "White" overseas tourists use Canon more often than not. If you have L lenses, you won't be alone or special in Japan, because many tourists had them. However, I did see the Nikon or Pentax bodies hanging from neckstraps, including film bodies of each. I saw 2 tall, hot model-esque girls walking around with Nikons, and "I felt a little tingle." The number of red and gold rings on lenses was astonishing, really. Nobody went on vacation with the kit lens. Add a large number of Leica photographers to the list. I seem to see one at most major temples and shrines I've been to. OK, not every single one, but I've seen at least 5-7 Leicas in the 7 days I did extensive "touristy" sightseeing, and I didn't expect that. Haha, I even saw two guys with what looks like a large format camera and massive tripod in Shibuya. I don't know what they were trying to photograph so close to an intersection, but there you go. I didn't know there was a place where Canon wasn't the most popular, but if there is a place, Japan appears to be it. The Nikon logo is everywhere in Japan, and the size of the Nikon sales section in many of the camera store seems to indicate the same. In Japan, Nikon seems to be as popular, possibly MORE popular, than Canon, while Canon p&s cameras seem to be popular in electronics stores simply due to their large number of models, I think. Lots of other brands were popular too though, so don't get me wrong. If you want to buy camera stuff, I highly recommend Bic Camera. Each brand has its own section in the store, and I'm not talking about a small section, either. You need to walk through these sections. Many of their stores have an entire range of lenses, and you're free to pick up any camera whenever you want. Imagine a Nikon section with 2 D40s, a D50, 3 or 4 D80s, 2-3 D200s, and a D2Xs.....all sitting there for customers to pick up and play with. Needless to say, I picked them ALL up, even the D50!! I had to compare shutter sounds and viewfinder sizes, of course. These cameras weren't necessarily attached to its kit lens. Oh no......the worst lens that these cameras was attached to was the 18-70 mm lens that came with the D70s. Some of the D80s I used were attached to a 105 mm f/2.8 Macro lens with VR, another had an 18-200 mm VR lens attached. They even had unattached lenses sitting beside these cameras so that if you wanted to, you could switch lenses! The store I went to near Tokyo Station had a massive floor for photography. Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus, Leica, and even Samsung and Panasonic had their own DSLR section. Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina had individual sections as well, and of course.....many of their lenses were attached to Nikon, Canon, and Pentax lenses. I played with so many Nikon, Canon, Sigma and Tamron lenses that day, I felt like I was in heaven. I even held a Sigma DSLR for the first time! Add to this their huge collection of filters, film, camera bags (I can't remember ever seeing so many bags in one place), tripods, and monopods, and you can imagine how I managed to spend 3 hours there. I thought that store was unusually big, but many of their stores in Tokyo are that big. At the Bic Camera store beside Shinjuku station, across from Keio department store, they actually have an entire 5 storey building dedicated to photography only. They had an entire storey for tripods, one for medium and large format cameras, and of course, one for SLRs and lenses. Fewer cameras to play with, but a lot more variety of lenses to touch! They even had a flower sitting on a table, with both a Nikon and Canon aimed at it via a metal jig holding up both cameras. A Tamron 90 mm f/2.8 macro was attached to the Nikon (it has a fantastic reputation, and it seemed to deserve it), while I think a Sigma 150 mm was attached to the Canon. You could take macro shots of the flower to test out the two lenses! Sigma 10-20 mm, Tokina 12-24 mm, Tamron 10-17 mm (?), a 3rd party fisheye (Tokina?), and a bunch of lenses that I always wanted to compare.....all sitting in a row for me to do so. And they had the expensive 400 mm, 500 mm, and 600 mm Canon and Nikon crazy-ass lenses for you to try as well, but these were attached to tripods, not just sitting on a table. There were a few you walk up to and test out (a 300 mm f/2.8, I believe, and two other big lenses), while most of them were behind glass displays. This form of photography store works for me. Why? Because you don't need to go through a salesperson to see what you want, and nobody is there watching you. If I walk into a typical camera store in North America, Australia, Europe, etc, I feel a bit strange if I test a lens for more than 3-4 minutes, and I feel a bit weird if I ask to see more than 2 lenses to test out. Sometimes I don't want to buy anything, y'know? I just want to test out EVERYTHING I can get my hands on, and that's exactly what I did. It was a photo gear "buffet" of sorts. I didn't have to ask anyone to test anything out, and since the store is always jam-packed with people doing what I was doing, nobody was watching me at all. In total, I probably spent 8 hours of my trip (so far) at Bic Camera. All I have bought was a Manfrotto monopod and head, but that's only because they were all hanging on the wall for you to play with. If I didn't get a chance to just pick them all up, I wouldn't have bought it. Prices: The prices were probably the same as in America, although I'm not too sure. However, if you're not from America, that place is a dream. I paid around $48 USD for my Manfrotto 676B monopod, and around $48 for the head. In Australia, I'd pay around $100 USD for the monopod, and around $55-60 for the head. Massive savings! I almost bought a Nikon 35 mm f/2 because it cost around $340 USD, which is even less than gray market pricing is in Australia. Anyway, I'm in DSLR heaven right now, I think. There's just so much to try out and compare. I never thought I'd just walk into the Canon section, pick up a 1Ds Mk II with 50 mm f/1.4 lens attached, and start shooting. Absolutely mad.